Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
At Theatre 40
Through December 21
Just as there are films we call chick flicks and books we call chick lit, so there are plays that for want of a better term you might refer to as chick theater.
Kristi Kane’s Perfect Timing is such a play. Directed by Bruce Gray on a tasteful elegant set (designer Jeff G. Rack), It’s a pretty piece of fluff with Noel Coward-like overtones. The script – which premiered in Van Nuys in 1981 – isn’t new or fresh or deep, but overall the production is entertaining and well-done.
The play is set in the frou-frou neighborhood of Knightsbridge, London, at some indeterminate time “before cell phones and the internet.” Cordelia (Helen Anker) is an art critic engaged to a stuffy banker named Alex (Martin Thompson) who sometimes sleeps over but still has his own place.
Cordelia’s housemate is her administrative assistant Vivianna (Christine Joelle), a composed and organized woman – in contrast to Cordelia, a social butterfly who gets flustered if the doorbell and telephone ring at the same time.
The action gets going when Gerrard (Shawn Savage), a handsome hunky artist, makes a surprise entrance into Cordelia’s living room and declares himself smitten by her charms. Cordelia is pretty taken with him too. She’s now faced with a choice between boring reliable Alex and this new dishy dude – a nice guy, as it turns out, but low wattage in the thinking department.
Cordelia’s third option – the most attractive of all – is to do them both. She goes for it, and the rest of the play tracks the permutations of her love life as her lovers exit her world and then re-enter it, sometimes with new paramours of their own in tow.
Perfect Timing isn’t the most keenly plotted sex farce; some of the situations which put Cordelia in a tizzy are overly contrived, even for this genre. But adept performances keep you interested and amused.
As a prig Thompson’s timing and deportment are faultless. Savage is charming as a dim but affable bloke from a working class background, unaccustomed to the hypocrisies of the middle class. And Joelle turns the self-effacing Vivianna into someone to really care about.
As Cordelia, Anker’s delivery is stagier and less convincing. There’s a spillover between the poseur element in the character and the performance itself. Both could use more layers.
Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno, Beverly Hills, Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m., Wed., December 2 and 16, 8 p.m.; dark November 26-27; through December 21. (310) 364-0535 or www.Theatre40.org. Running time: 2 hours with a 15 minute intermission.